[Additional comments below]


   Hacker Tools Getting Smarter 
   Watch Out For Vandals! 
   These are sneaky, sneaky bits of code that seem harmless until
   they come in contact with your computer.
   Shimon Gruper, eSafe Technologies
   By Michael J. Martinez
   S E A T T L E,   April 29 — The traditional image of a
   hacker—sweating nervously in front of a computer while battling
   network security programs—has become a thing of the past, thanks
   to a new generation of smart hacking tools called vandals.

[Vandals? The correct word is "trojans". This is an attempt to coin
 a new buzzword.]

        Most computer security measures are still aimed at real-time
   intrusions—someone trying to break in using the computer
   equivalent of brute force. Vandals, however, are innocuous looking
   programs that lie in waiting in e-mail and on Web sites.
        “These are sneaky, sneaky bits of code that seem harmless
   until they come in contact with your computer,” says Shimon
   Gruper, founder and chief technology officer of eSafe Technologies.
   “They are very, very popular right now.”

[Trojans are no more popular now than a year ago. Hackers and crackers
 see the use for them, but typically do not rely on them as a means of 
 compromising system security.]
   Hacking the Easy Way 
   What’s the difference between a vandal and other hacker methods?
   Traditionally, hackers had to log on to the network they wanted to
   crack and try to circumvent all the security measures in real time.
   Vandals are let loose into a computer system and forgotten about.
        Sound like a virus? Not really. Viruses are simple bits of code,
   designed to cause mischief or destruction once they enter a system.
   Vandals, on the other hand, can be programmed not only to destroy
   specific items within a network or on a hard drive, but also to bring
   information stored on a computer back to the hacker—such as the
   passwords to the entire network.

[Viruses spread themselves in a different manner than trojans. Despite
 what people think, a trojan OR a virus can destroy information, retrieve
 information, or anything else. The difference, is that trojans require a user 
 to actively run the program (usually disguised as another program, thus the
 name), while a virus may spread itself once installed into a computer's 
 memory. Viruses are often platform specific, while trojans often escape
 that limitation.]

        Defenses against traditional hacks and viruses are relatively
   easy. Firewalls and password protection can stave off most assaults,
   at least until the network’s administrator can be alerted.
   Anti-virus programs are commercially available, and most can readily
   identify any of the 3,000 or so viruses out there today.

[The estimate of 3,000 viruses is closer to a timeframe of 1991. In
 1997 it was purported to be closer to 10,000 by many anti-virus companies.]

        “All of these items have been on the market for years,”
   Gruper says. “But these vandals are different.”
   Watch That Applet! 
   Vandals are hidden within other executable programs, like a Java or
   ActiveX applet in a Web page, or an .exe file sent via e-mail.
   They’re implanted in a system by something as simple as opening a
   Web page or a program attachment in e-mail. They get the info they
   need, cover their tracks, and then send that information back to their
   creator, usually piggy-backed on top of unrelated outgoing e-mail.
        Unfortunately, vandals aren’t caught too often. Like most
   security measures, those designed to catch vandals in the act are
   often outdated within weeks or months.

[This would be a prime time to ask for cited material on this.]

        Gruper thinks he has a solution. Instead of writing a program to
   clamp down on specific vandals, Gruper’s eSafe Protect program
   sniffs out almost anything that’s out of the ordinary.

[Ahh, the real motive of this article.]

        First off, the eSafe program “learns” how you go about
   your computer tasks. It records how you use each application, and how
   each application works. Then, after anywhere from a day to a week, the
   computer digests all of that information and creates a set of
   parameters for “normal” computer use. Any program that
   enters the computer from an outside source will be compared to those
   parameters. Those behaving oddly, in the computer’s perspective,
   will be sealed off and not allowed to affect the rest of the computer.

[So if I visit a web page every day for news, it will learn that
 and consider it normal behaviour. If the page is hacked and a 'vandal' is
 placed on it, it would be missed because visiting that page is normal. Right?]
   Anti-Vandal Software 
   While this approach certainly maximizes safety, and won an
   Editor’s Choice award from PC Magazine, computer security expert
   John Vransevich says it might be just a little too paranoid.
   Vransevich says the eSafe program questioned too many of his computing
   moves, making Web surfing on Java or ActiveX-enhanced pages more than
   a little tiresome.
        “In my mind, for computer security software to be effective,
   and for it to be something that your average person would actually
   use, it should be almost invisible,” Vransevich says. “With
   its constant interruptions, as I’d call them, the software is
   almost annoying, and I think the average user would find themselves
   closing it just so that it would leave them alone.”
        On the other hand, some computer users would rather be safe than

[ Here is another example of horrible journalism. First what the hell is
with this term "vandals"? This is nothing more than a trojan. Second
although the article title would make you think they are talking about
some new attack the article itself reads more like an ad for eSafe. What,
could not find any other product to compare it to? And lastly our friend
from AntiOnline has now officially been named a security expert. - aleph1 ]